The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disbursed over N426.3 billion through six of its intervention programmes targeted at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
About 801,540 beneficiaries have so far benefited from these schemes aimed at growing the Nigerian economy.
Speaking on this development while delivering a lecture at the University of Lagos convocation ceremony yesterday, the CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, urged universities to stir up entrepreneurship spirit in both students and graduates as part of measures to boost the SME sector.
He declared that the apex bank has so far disbursed N83.9 billion to 216,705 beneficiaries through the micro, small and medium enterprises development fund (MSMEDF) which gives up to N50 million at nine per cent interest rate.
The apex bank, he added, also disbursed N111.7 billion to 548,345 beneficiaries through the Agri-business/ SMEs Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) and another N253.4 billion to 29,026 beneficiaries through the N50 billion targeted credit facility.
He also said that N3.1 billion has been disbursed to 341 beneficiaries through the creative industry financing initiative (CIFI) and another N2.04 billion given to 7,057 beneficiaries under the N75 billion Nigeria youth investment fund (NYIF).
To stimulate entrepreneurship among young Nigerians, he said the CBN has disbursed N173.4 million to 67 beneficiaries through the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP).
He, however, lamented the low demand for the intervention fund, charging tertiary institutions in the country to encourage entrepreneurship among students.
According to him, the CBN is ready to partner with tertiary institutions in the country to fund graduates who come up with projects that would make them employers of labour rather than seek employment on graduation.
Emefiele, while speaking on the topic: “National Development and Knowledge Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st Century,” assured of the bank’s readiness to increase its development finance interventions to further support start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Emphasising that special consideration should be given to strengthening of physical and ICT infrastructure to enable SMEs perform more efficiently and become globally competitive, he highlighted the critical role of vibrant SMEs to the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs for Nigerian youth.
While noting that the potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth was hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration, Emefiele enjoined the government and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs.
The CBN governor further opined that enhanced collaboration between universities and players in key sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, manufacturing and ICT were necessary to enable implementation of sound ideas generated from the universities.
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